Death isn't stopping Trump's nasty feud with John McCain

The president threw out a prepared White House statement, saying he preferred to tweet instead.
August 27, 2018, 12:57pm
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President Donald Trump is still feuding with John McCain — even though the senator died Saturday from brain cancer.

The Washington Post reports that Trump was presented with a prepared White House statement drafted by press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shortly after McCain’s death.

The president threw it out, saying he preferred to tweet a statement.

Dismissing the pleas of Huckabee Sanders and Chief of Staff John Kelly to issue the statement praising McCain as a “hero,” Trump tweeted: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

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The president then pivoted to a complaint about the Russia investigation and a boast about the economy before heading to his Virginia golf course.

While the flag on the White House was lowered to half-staff Sunday, it was back at full staff Monday morning — even though it's traditional for the flag to remain lowered until the day of interment. The flag over the Capitol building remained at half-staff Monday.

Later in the day, however, Trump released a statement that the White House would, in fact, fly the flag at half-staff until McCain's interment.

When repeatedly asked about McCain’s legacy during an Oval Office press briefing on Monday morning, Trump also reportedly ignored the questions.

A series of ceremonies are planned for this week in Washington D.C. and McCain’s home state of Arizona.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will speak Thursday at a funeral conducted at North Phoenix Baptist Church before McCain's body is moved to Washington where he will lie in state Friday in the Capitol Rotunda.

His remains will then be taken past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on their way to a funeral at Washington National Cathedral, where former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will deliver eulogies.

A private funeral will be held Sunday at the Naval Academy Chapel followed by a private burial at the Academy cemetery.

McCain’s decision to not have Trump speak is being viewed as a posthumous political slight toward the draft dodger who claimed in 2015 McCain was not a war hero because he was captured.

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Likewise, the choice of Obama and Bush — the two men who prevented McCain from becoming president — to speak at his Washington service is notable.

READ: John McCain dead at 81

“These were bitter contests, both of them,” Sen. Jeff Flake, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “To ask them to speak at your funeral, and for them to be honored at the opportunity, that tells you all you need to know.”

Trump is not expected to attend any of the events to mark McCain’s life, with two White House officials telling AP that McCain’s family specifically requested Trump stay away from the ceremonies.

While Trump refrained from publicly calling McCain a hero, several international leaders lauded the Vietnam veteran.

French President Emmanuel Macron said McCain “was a true American hero,” while Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said McCain’s support for the Jewish state “never wavered. It sprang from his belief in democracy and freedom.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel got in her own jab at Trump, praising McCain as “a tireless fighter for a strong trans-Atlantic alliance. His significance went well beyond his own country.”

Trump supporters, however, used social media to launch vitriolic attacks against McCain, decrying him as a "traitor."

Cover image: Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One to travel to New York, at the White House on August 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)